Library assistants assist the librarian in the day-to-day activities of the library. They help clients find the materials they need, check out library materials and restock the shelves.
Library assistants typically do the following:
- Sort and shelve books according to their categorization
- Register new patrons and maintain and update their profiles
- Maintain records of books taken out and books brought back
- Catalog new arrivals
- Assist guests with internet access and ensure their technical needs are met
- Organize the repair of damaged books
- Inspect the condition of books before and after check-out to ascertain any damage on behalf of the customer
- Manage inquiries over the counter and via email or telephone
The following job titles also refer to library assistant:
senior library assistant
library services assistant
Library assistants typically will work under the direction of librarians and library technicians performing a wide range of tasks that sometimes involves assisting library patrons. This can range from checking in and out materials to restocking shelves to assisting with community programs. While some tasks can be handled at a desk, other tasks will require being up and moving around regularly.
Since most jobs are part-time, hours vary. Libraries usually are open during regular business hours in addition to evenings and weekends. Libraries in smaller communities may have more limited hours due to limited resources, but library assistants should be prepared to work any day at any time between roughly 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Assistants often will have schedules that vary from week to week.
Library assistants need at least a high school diploma in most circumstances, and some libraries may even hire high school students to serve in entry-level roles. Libraries provide on-the-job training.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Library assistant is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Library assistant career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to library assistant.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of library assistant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of library assistant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of library assistant.
- Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of library assistant.
- Maintain library equipment: Maintain, clean and repair library resources, equipment and facilities, such as dusting or fixing printer paper jams.
- Manage library users queries: Search library databases and standard reference materials, including online sources, to help users should they have questions.
- Assess informational needs: Communicate with clients or users in order to identify which information they require and the methods with which they can access it.
- Maintain library inventory: Keep accurate records of circulation of materials, maintain an up-to-date inventory, and correct possible cataloguing errors.
- Analyse library users’ queries: Analyse library users’ requests to determine extra information; assist in furnishing and locating that information.
- Provide library information: Explain the use of library services, resources and equipment; provide information about library customs.
- Organise library material: Organise collections of books, publications, documents, audio-visual material and other reference materials for convenient access.
- Classify library materials: Classify, code and catalogue books, publications, audio-visual documents and other library materials based on subject matter or library classification standards.
- Organise information: Arrange information according to a specified set of rules. Catalogue and classify information based on the characteristics of that information.
- Instruct library users: Teach library visitors basic computer skills, such as searching digital databases.
- Display library material: Assemble, sort and arrange library materials for display.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of library assistant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Literature: The body of artistic writing characterized by beauty of expression, form, and universality of intellectual and emotional appeal.
- Collection management: The process of resource evaluation, selection and life-cycle planning to create and promote a coherent collection in line with the developing needs of the users or customers. Understanding legal deposit for long-term access to publications.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of library assistant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Compile library lists: Compile exhaustive lists of books, magazines, periodicals, articles, and audio-visual materials on particular subjects.
- Manage digital libraries: Collect, manage and preserve for permanent access digital content and offer to targeted user communities specialised search and retrieval functionality.
- Digitise documents: Load analog documents by converting them into a digital format, using specialised hardware and software.
- Use software for data preservation: Utilise specialised applications and software to collect and preserve digital information.
- Evaluate library materials: Evaluate materials to determine whether they are outdated and should be replaced, or they are unused and should be discarded.
- Develop solutions to information issues: Analyse information needs and challenges to develop effective technological solutions.
- Develop classification systems: Organise archive or business records; develop classification systems to facilitate access to all information.
- Confer with library colleagues: Communicate with colleagues and collaborators; make collection decisions and determine present and future library services to offer.
- Apply for library funding: Compose proposals for new research or project grants.
- Assist in library facility planning: Provide input into the future planning of library facilities.
- Create semantic trees: Create coherent lists and hierarchies of concepts and terms to ensure consistent indexing in knowledge organisation systems.
- Buy new library items: Evaluate new library products and services, negotiate contracts, and place orders.
ISCO group and title
4411 – Library clerks
- Library assistant – ESCO
- Library Technicians and Assistants : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Library Assistant Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More – Liveabout
- Library Assistant job description template | Workable
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